Welcome to Wednesday. I have an absolutely delicious book for you all today. The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand is definitely a feel good book all about love, pastries and chocolate set in Paris. My mouth absolutely watered reading about all the culinary goodness in this book. Chocolate and love will certainly put a smile on your face. I am pleased to welcome author Laura Florand here today to tell you about chocolate and writing. Here is a tidbit on Laura:
If you would like to know a little bit about me, honestly, you can find out WAY TOO MUCH in Blame It on Paris, which is a true story of an American falling in love with a Frenchman and he with her, forcing both of them, as well as their families, to deal with each other’s crazy cultures. I had to learn how to prepare snails! He had to taste wine from Alabama! Probably enough said.
Other than that, I’ve studied Polynesian culture and dance as a Fulbright Scholar to Tahiti (what a year!), I’ve traveled as much as I can, often backpacking by myself through countries when I was younger. A few years ago, a neighbor created The Grueling Triathlon of Doom, and honestly—who can resist adding a Grueling Triathlon of Doom to their life accomplishments? (It was a 5-lap swim, a 6-mile bike, and a 2-mile run. Doesn’t sound hard? Try being me at the time!) I’ve since done a few longer (sprint) triathlons, and can safely tell you that I hate lake swims. Very, very much.I decided I was going to be a writer when I was nine years old. The quantity of rejected stories, poems, books, articles I wrote before Blame It on Paris was published do not entirely bear thinking of. I have five finished, revised books that will never be published and in retrospect probably shouldn’t be. I guess I am just stubborn. You can find Laura on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
And here is Laura to share with her experiences on writing about chocolate:
Thanks so much, Heidi, for having me on for a little bit of chocolate today! And for allowing me to spontaneously express myself on my favorite subject, chocolate.
I have to say I approach interviews with some trepidation these days, and that’s because of the trauma of my first ones. When the first book in the Amour et Chocolat series came out (The Chocolate Thief), I started to get all these interviews, which was exciting for me, as a new author, until the journalist would ask the first question, which was always: “So why chocolate?”
Something which would completely stump me right off the bat. “Um, well, but, um...it’s chocolate. Did you hear your own question?”
Which did not work out well for me in interviews, but I still say it’s an odd question. What would you answer to it? Here are some variants I’ve tried:
1) “Why do you write about chocolate?” Me: “Why would you not?”
2) “So what got you interested in chocolate?” Me: “I—I’m sorry, but is this a trick question?”
3) “How is that you started writing about chocolate?” Me: “See, it was in the seventh grade, and I had to do this term paper on a subject that interested me...”
None of these seemed to work. In fact, after several interview hiccups, I thought, My interview skills might need some work. And I went to a media training session. The media trainer wanted us to come up with three universal messages about our books, and I wrote down, “Love, Paris, and chocolate.”
I would like to just point out that she gave me five minutes to come up with something! I was trying to hit the main points.
She was deeply underwhelmed. She said, “Umm...okay, the love idea we can finesse into something. Paris...well, maybe. Maybe we can do something with that. But...chocolate...I mean, these are supposed to be universal messages. Don’t you think that’s kind of light?”
Light!!! Chocolate. We were clearly not on the same wavelength.
I tried to argue, having forgotten a fundamental rule from my time as a student, which was, Never argue with the person running the room. I said, “Are you sure about that? Because I’m kind of thinking that’s the most powerful word of the three.”
So a little while later, she asked people to volunteer to read their universal messages, and they were truly beautiful things like, “The fundamental value of human existence is that we’re all seeking to understand each other.”
I very much did NOT volunteer to read mine, not after the first reaction they got. But she called on me anyway (see note above about not arguing with the professor), and pretty much forced me to try mine. I bravely tried to start off with the one she said was the strongest. So for Universal Message #1, I said something about “looking for a love powerful enough to cross cultures, worlds, classes, languages”. Total death in the audience. Universal Message #2: “Paris is the symbol of adventure, of going for our dreams, of the whole big life.” Maybe one or two people might have slightly perked up. “Chocolate”—And the whole room burst into this giant ecstatic sigh: “Chocolate!”
Seriously, you would have thought Heaven and all its archangels had descended right there. And that they were those buff kind of archangels Nalini Singh writes about, too.
So that’s why I write about chocolate—that giant universal sigh of ecstasy—but how to convey that in a soundbite answer to an interview question, I’m still not sure. I will say that I am absolutely fascinated by the sensuality and magic of real life, and there’s nothing that captures this better than the world of top-end artisan chocolate in Paris. I get to sink into every writing day with absolute delight. And when readers or reviewers write to me about how delighted they were to sink into that sensual, magical world, I feel so happy that...I go eat another piece of chocolate. To celebrate, you know. The life and sensuality and magic that we all have in us.
And honestly, I think you should go eat one, too. Right now. And enjoy every bite. Because biting into a good piece of chocolate is asserting your own right to sensual pleasure—to luscious, glorious sensual pleasure—and I say, Go for it. It is yours for the taking and nothing should hold you back.
And I hope that’s what I convey in my books.
Thanks so much, Heidi, for inviting me on! May you all have as much delicious chocolate as you could possibly want this holiday season and not a single qualm about it, either! If you want some hints on where to find some good chocolate or just a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes research, please check out my website and blog (where I just posted my favorite U.S. artisan chocolatiers for Christmas chocolate the other day: or join me on Facebook where I often post about my chocolate explorations.
To win a copy of THE CHOCOLATE KISS, I would love to know what you would answer if someone asked you, “So what got you interested in chocolate?”
Also, I have an ongoing Chocolate Hunt on my blog, so please don’t hesitate to share some of your own artisan chocolatier recommendations with me. I’m always on the alert for more.
Now that Laura has all of your mouths watering for luscious, decadent chocolate....you can enter to win a copy of her book. Please fill out the Rafflecopter and be sure to answer Laura's question in the comments. Good Luck! Chocolate does indeed make me feel better!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand
Welcome to La Maison des Sorcieres. Where the window display is an enchanted forest of sweets, a collection of conical hats delights the eye and the habitues nibble chocolate witches from fanciful mismatched china. While in their tiny blue kitchen, Magalie Chaudron and her two aunts stir wishes into bubbling pots of heavenly chocolat chaud. But no amount of wishing will rid them of interloper Philippe Lyonnais, who has the gall to open one of his world famous pastry shops right down the street. Philippe’s creations seem to hold a magic of their own, drawing crowds of beautiful women to their little isle amidst the Seine, and tempting even Magalie to venture out of her ivory tower and take a chance, a taste…a kiss. Parisian princesses, chocolate witches, patissier princes and sweet wishes—an enchanting tale of amour et chocolat.
Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: December 24th 2012 by Brava.
Three and a half stars: An antagonistic romance that explodes with chocolate goodness!
Magalie stirs another wish into the sweet, bubbling pot of chocolate. She is always making wishes for all the would be princesses who enter her aunts' shop. She is content with her life in Paris tucked away in the quiet chocolate shop, or is she? Disaster strikes when Magalie and her aunts learn that there is a new store opening on their street. The quiet island has hosted their little chocolate shop for years and they have a loyal clientele. The new business is going to be a pastry shop owned by Philippe Lyonnais, the most famous and the best pastry chef in the world. Magalie is determined not to let him impose on her livelihood. So she dons a sexy parisian outfit and a pair of smart boots and storms into his kitchen to demand that he not open his store on her street. What Magalie doesn't know is that she has met a formidable opponent in Philippe, and soon the two are at odds and determined to see who will cave first and taste the other's sweet creations. Along the way, Magalie might just learn a little about love, pastries and chocolate in the city of love.
What I Liked:
- Is there any more romantic place to set a love story than Paris? Add in rich, decadent chocolate and lighter than air pastries and you have the recipe for a romantic tryst that you won't soon forget. This book is brimming with everything you love about Paris and food. It is bursting with delicious descriptions of bubbling pots of melting chocolate and pastries exploding with creamy filling. This book absolutely will make your mouth water. I fell in love with the charming island that housed all of these wonderful shops and longed to stroll down Magalie's street and spend an afternoon in La Maison des Sorcieres drinking pots of rich hot chocolate from mismatched crockery and hopefully having a wish or two mixed into my pot, while I sampled some chocolates and admired all the eclectic decorations in the witches' shop. Then I would stroll on down to Lyonnais pastries and sample a few sinful macarons. Ms. Florand does an amazing job of capturing the flavor of Paris in her irresistible little book.
- This book features a romance where the couple is locked in a business duel in the beginning. It actually reminded me a bit of one of my favorite movies: You've Got Mail. Philippe and Magalie are determined to best the other. Magalie is convinced she can put a few wishes in a pot of chocolate and get Philippe to bend to her desires, but the problem is he isn't drinking what Magalie is serving. Philippe is also trying to get Magalie to sample his tantalizing creations. He knows that one bite will win her over, but she isn't going to let one morsel of his baked perfections touch her lips. So you have a battle of food waging between the two, and what results is a simmering attraction that builds and builds until it explodes into a sexual encounter complete with chocolate and pastries that will blow your mind. It is decadent and sinful and mouth watering and it will make you blush.....If you want to read a sexy book that will have you drooling, read this one. I am always a fan of antagonistic romances because the tension and build up is exciting, and I eagerly anticipate when one of the players gives in and the fire ignites. This one follows that tried and true formula, and the pay off is worth the wait.
- Philippe is one of those complicated male leads who takes awhile to warm up to. Sure, he is gorgeous and charming, and he immediately draws people to him with his charismatic personality, but you can't help but be angry at him for opening his shop and endangering the little chocolate shop's business. Yet, as his buttery layers are exposed you see he is kind, and caring and extremely patient. I like that it takes awhile to get to know him, but once I did I really liked him!
- I appreciated that even though this is book two of a series, you can pick it up and read it without having read the first book because the books are written as stand alone/ companion novels, meaning the main characters of the first book make appearances in this book but the story of this book is a completely different focus. So grab this one with no worries that you will be lost.
- I loved that this book had just a hint of magic. Magalie and her aunts are known as the witches among the locals. Magalie and her two aunts believe that they can mix wishes, or perhaps a few curses into the tea and pots of chocolate. Philippe also believes that his creations have a bit of magic of their own. Whether the magic is real or not is left open for the reader to decide. Can wishes stirred into a pot of chocolate or desire baked into a pastry really come true? I hope that they can!
And The Not So Much:
- I absolutely adored the chocolate shop: La Maison des Sorcieres. It is this small, cozy shop tucked away on a small island of Paris. Magalie's aunts have done a quiet and successful business in chocolate for years. The shop crafts one of a kind chocolate creations and the window displays each month are amazing chocolate displays that tell a witchy story. I loved everything about this shop, the mismatched dishes, the chocolate molds, the eccentric aunts and the chocolate wishes. I only wished I could have spent more time in the shop learning the aunt's secrets. The aunt's are fascinating and I felt like I didn't even begin to understand their secrets. Furthermore, I was a bit confused over their relationship. One of the aunts, Genevieve, is Magalie's maternal aunt while the other, Aja, is a lover and partner. This relationship isn't completely explained and a lot of it is inferred. I was surprised to learn that the aunts were in a romantic relationship since it isn't revealed until later in the book, and there wasn't any indication that the aunts were lovers. In fact, Genevieve was quite a catch in her day as she managed to seduce a wealthy politician, and as a gift he gave her the building where the chocolate shop is housed. I needed more development with the aunts' characters.
- For me, the first half of this book is full of sexual tension and the battle of the sweets is hilarious and ripe with tension as it unfolds. I was excited as the stakes grew higher and the attraction between Philippe and Magalie was just waiting to explode, and when it does it certainly does not disappoint, there is a steamy scene that you won't soon forget. After that, there are several more of these romantic interludes and the book loses its steam. The second half is a lot of sexual encounters and then Magalie begins to struggle with her identity and intimacy and once again the pair is finding themselves at odds while she tries to work everything out. I didn't particularly enjoy all of Magalie's childhood dilemmas coming to the surface. She definitely has issues with trust and intimacy and watching her work through them all was a bit boring. I think a lot of this could have been cut out, but in the end it is still a satisfying read.
- This is definitely an adult book as there are plenty of explicit sex scenes.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
"She lifted the spoon, unctuous chocolate clinging to it. Thick and pure, probably rich with cream and high-quality dark chocolate, the liquid slid slowly back off the spoon. The scent of it promised bliss."
"She always made sure to stir in a wish, because whenever she dipped her spoon into the chocolate, it felt as if she could."
"Never use chocolate for vengeance,"
"Paris before dawn was more peaceful than a child, as peaceful as an intense, sophisticated society queen in her rare few moments of repose."
"This might be her darkest chocolate ever. The scents, in abeyance when they arrived, filled the kitchen now, overwhelming his caramel, making the world one breath of chocolate, wisped with cinnamon and nutmeg."
"Rambutan, roses, cream, white chocolate....as the chocolate melted under the hot cream, as he blended the ingredients together into something unctuous and extraordinary, he thought of pale skin and pink secrets, of melting a person and making her body yield everything to his touch."
"But as her teeth broke the fine crust of the macaron shells, her whole body slowed, the energy of the bite dissolved into a dream."